Prop 8 to live on … for now

29 05 2009

As many of you already know, this past Tuesday, the California Supreme Court ruled that Prop 8 was indeed an amendment to the state constitution, which means that same-sex marriage in California is officially prohibited by the state constitution.  This amendment does not apply retroactively, which means that the approximately 18,000 same-sex marriages already performed before Prop 8 passed are still valid marriages.

On the one hand, I do think that the court made the correct decision with regards to how people can decide on changes to their state constitution.  I do NOT think that’s even remotely okay to ban same-sex marriage, but constitutionally, Prop 8 stands.

However, consider what has happened since Prop 8 was enacted.  At first, the only states left to be awesome were MA and CT.  It was lonely.  But suddenly, we were joined by Iowa, Vermont, and Maine.  New Hampshire is working on it, and then we can be all, “Come on, Rhode Island, stop sucking.”  And Iowa’s victory is huge; it proves that New England isn’t alone, and it gives courage and strength to same-sex marriage advocates in the midwest and elsewhere that success can happen in states that aren’t notoriously liberal.

As of now, I would consider the 18,000 existing same-sex marriages in California to be a depressing consolation prize.  While I’m very happy that these couples are not being stripped of their benefits and status, it’s not symbolic of any sort of equality.  Instead, it’s simply that there’s no legal recourse to nullify the marriages.

I also think it’s too soon to judicially challenge the same-sex marriage ban in California, or in the other states which have banned same-sex marriage and unions.  Instead, I think that same-sex marriage advocates and supporters need to focus on pushing for same-sex marriage though the legislature in other states, as we’ve seen in Vermont and Maine, and hopefully New Hampshire soon.  The more “normal” same-sex marriage is, the more likely judges will be to rule in favor of same-sex marriage, and against marriage bans and other LGBT-unfriendly laws.  If we rush to have a federal lawsuit, we run the risk of bad timing.  The Supreme Court may rule against same-sex marriage, thus setting a precedent that reinforces the cultural norm that LGBT people are merely second-class citizens.


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3 responses

29 05 2009
jonolan

Mostly I agree with your reasoning, but I think that Florida’s Prop 2, which amended the state’s constitution to forbid both same-sex marriages and same-sex civil union, or anything resembling or being similar to such things, should be challenged in court sooner rather than later.

Oddly, CA’s Prop 8, which actually removed nobody substantive legal rights, caused wild uproar but FL’s Prop 2, which obviously and bluntly removed people’s legal rights, was largely ignored.

29 05 2009
FormerlyST

Kudos to the Cali SC for upholding an ammendment by the people. A decision to do otherwise would equal a constitutional crisis. TENTH AMMENDMENT, BABY!

29 05 2009
jonolan

FormerlyST,

It was the California State Supreme Court who made the ruling. Since no federal agency was involved, the 10th Amendment was also not involved.

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